To the north and south of Mombasa there are superb beaches and a number of pockets of tourist development but the coast is not yet developed in the Florida or Spanish Costa sense. For many visitors the resort areas represent little more than sun, sea, sand and you can, of course, have a wonderful time on the beaches doing nothing very much, but there's a lot more to do if you want.

Most obviously, the beaches are the launch pad for one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Even with the most limited equipment – a snorkel and mask, easily obtained almost anywhere – you can still enter what really is another world, either taking a boat or swimming out to discover sections of reef for yourself. If you are interested in diving, there are a good number of dive centres along the coast catering for both the experienced diver and the beginner. There are many dhow trip operators offering excursions that include snorkelling, diving, seafood lunch and the chance to swim with dolphins. A glass bottom boat is another way to travel over to the reef, particularly good for people who cannot swim but do not want to miss out on the experience of seeing life under water.

For extreme water sports fans, there are a number of centres offering air gliding, waterskiing, wind and kite surfing, jet skis and banana boats. Big game fishing is also available.

There is a string of hotels along the coast which provide the usual amenities. However, if you want to visit the coast and avoid the bigger tourist complexes, it can be better to rent a cottage. These are often holiday homes belonging to people who live and work in Nairobi and are generally more pleasant places to stay. Fresh fish and seafood are brought to your door straight from the sea by the local fishermen and a personal cook is available to prepare and cook all your meals.

Old friends of ours have just such a property near Malindi which can sleep up to 10 people in 5 bedrooms.It is a traditional Swahili style house, stands on coral headland overlooking the beach, with beautiful flowering gardens. The house is on 2 levels with stunning views of the Indian Ocean and private direct access to the beach, which stretches out either side, within the Marine Park. Included are 3 staff, a cook, maid and gardener.